Practices of Domestic Violence in Pakistan: An Islamic Perspective
Violence against women is an important global phenomenon. In Pakistan like other developing countries, women particularly become target of domestic violence. Frequent media reports of violence perpetrated against Pakistani women creates an image of the country as a dangerous place for women to live in. Even though Islam is the official religion of the country, its provisions of justice and equality to protect Muslim women from the domestic tyranny remain ineffective. The prime reason behind this prevalence of violence in the country is the influence of patriarchal norms over the domestic and socio-legal structure of the Pakistani society. Consequently, patriarchal abusive power and control over the lives of women result in the prevalence of varied practices and forms of female domestic violence in the country. However, majority of these victims live in the rural areas of the country where lack of education and resources facilitates the rule of oppre-ssive patriarchal norms and values remotely distant from the teachings of Islam. Among the most popular forms of domestic violence practiced there, honour killing and Vani/ Swara are on the higher scale faced by the females. Honour killing is a form of murder which is committed in order to restore the lost dignity of the aggrieved family. Whereas, Vani/Sarawa is a kind of forced marriage where a female member of the accused family is given to the victim party in order to settle the disputes. Considering the Islamic justifications offered by some Muslim scholars in defense of these two types of violence, the present study challenges the misinterpretation of Quranic verses and Hadith to legitimatize these anti-Islamic practices devised to oppress women. This is done by examining the issue of Honour Killing and Vani (Sawara) through their meaning and historical back ground in the country. Concluding this paper clarifies that Islam condemns killing of mankind and forbids female victimization and the assumed notion of Honor killing and Vani.